US marathon specialist Dane Rauschenberg became the first person to run the classic 26.2 mile distance at sea when he completed multiple laps around the deck on the 14-day Crystal Serenity sailing from New Orleans to Miami last month (December 2016). Rauschenberg completed the marathon in 4:27:14, taking an hour more than he hoped after a combination of adverse factors meant that he was in danger of failing to finish in the later stages of his run.
The first 'marathon at sea' attempt was initially postponed for 24 hours because of bad weather but went ahead despite high winds and temperatures well into the 80s. Rauschenberg blogged: "For the first six miles, things went relatively smoothly. I knew that I was not going to go nearly as fast as I had hoped with the starting temperature being 84 degrees – more or less the temperature they stop, or 'black flag' most marathons."
The remainder of the marathon saw decks busy with passengers, rain storms that led to a slick wooden running surface, staff smoking zones and a bad foot cut that meant a change of shoes.
Those and other issues meant that Rauschenberg struggled over the closing miles: "Finally, with five loops to go, I had had enough. At the bow of the boat, I tried to use the shadow of the boat to propel me into what I hoped would just be 12-15 minutes of running to close out the day. Cramps in my leg from dehydration had other plans. The pain was sharp and intense and made me woozy. I couldn’t keep a level head unless I made my body level. So down on the deck I went.
"Almost immediately, crew members were on me asking me if I was alright. I tried to assure them that it was just a leg cramp. I kept assuring them I was fine but soon they were taking my blood pressure and pulse and everything else.
"With some help from others, I was pulled to my feet. I swallowed my pride after lying on the ground for over 10 minutes and realised finishing was all that mattered. Any 'good' time had long since passed. I sauntered the last three loops with the ship doctor and Shannon who keep an ice cold towel on my neck."
Check out the full story of the first 'marathon at sea' on Dane Rauschenberg's blog.